Developer: Przemyslaw Zych
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★½☆☆

Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆

A few weeks ago, I wrote a review for Uni Sudoku and lamented that no one is adding anything new to the cerebral solitaire game of sudoku.  I was wrong.  Sudoku Island tries valiantly to shift the sudoku paradigm, if that’s even possible, but while the concept is interesting, the execution still falls flat.

First impressions of Sudoku Island are good, as players are presented with an island map that they can travel once they win rounds of sudoku. After selecting a location on the map (initially, players only have one choice) the actual game begins with a traditional sudoku grid printed on an old piece of parchment, like a pirate’s treasure map.  Interspersed throughout the grid, along with the requisite numbers needed to start the game, are coins.  Fill in the correct number where the coin is, and you will earn the coin.  Coins can be collected as you continue to play game after game, and can eventually be cashed in for additional wallpapers, etc.  Each coin is on a timer, so the goal of the game is to solve the puzzle as quickly as possible, thus maxing out the total number of coins collected.

It bears repeating that there is nothing unsound in this concept. It takes the relatively sedate game of sudoku and energizes it with more of a time element, and the addition of bonuses that can be purchased with in-game coins is a good one.  Where the game truly disappoints, however, is in how it delivers this gameplay design.  

Strangely, there is no sound present in the game. From the moment it starts until you click the home button to escape the app, you hear absolutely nothing. I can forgive that in a straightforward sudoku game like Uni Sudoku (which, notwithstanding, DOES have subtle sound effects when entering numbers), but for a game with a purported pirate/island theme it seems like shoddy design.  Some ambient island/jungle sounds might be nice, as well as basic sounds when entering new numbers.  Hopefully the developers will address this issue quickly in future updates, as I don’t see how a game like this can be immersive in the slightest without sound.

The method used for inputting new numbers in a sudoku puzzle is also less than elegant.  In Uni Sudoku (a game I am beginning to admire more and more for its sheer ease of use), users simply draw the number in the proper box and the computer translates your scrawl into a typed number.  In Sudoku Island, touching a box brings up all 9 numbers, and you then have to select which number you want.  There is no way to use pencil marks in the game (a key strategy for anyone tackling more difficult sudoku puzzles) so that also creates more frustration than necessary.  An iPhone/iPad sudoku game should be as easy, if not easier, to use than a paper sudoku puzzle.  That is not the case with Sudoku Island.

There is definitely potential in Sudoku Island. Right now, however, you’d be best off waiting for an updated, more graphically and aurally enhanced version of the game.  Unfortunately, there’s no buried treasure to be found here.

Posted in: iPad Apps and Games, iPad Games, Reviews

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